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The Stadtbahn is a four-track railway line running on an east-west viaduct through the centre of Berlin. It connects Ostkreuz and Westkreuz stations and passes through Ostbahnhof, Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstrasse, Berlin-Hauptbahnhof, Zoo Station and Charlottenburg.
Like many cities, railways came to Berlin in a haphazard fashion,
reaching as far as the then city limits, where terminus stations
were built at locations convenient for the respective railway
meant passage through Berlin was difficult and inconvenient for
passengers and freight alike, and the military authorities saw the
situation as a hindrance for fast and easy movement of troops, a
problem keenly felt during the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War.
routes were proposed, and the current, somewhat meandering course was
eventually chosen because it provided the cheapest option. For much of
the way between Jannowitzbrücke and Friedrichstrasse the Stadtbahn's builders
were able to fill in the old, and largely useless Stadtgraben (city
moat) dating from the middle ages and conveniently owned by the state.
Between 1961 and 1989 the Stadtbahn was cut in half by the Berlin Wall, with the border straddling the section between Friedrichstraße and the Lehrter Stadtbahnhof (since demolished, replaced by Berlin-Hauptbahnhof).
Between 1994 and 1998 the section of the Stadtbahn between Zoo and Ostbahnhof was extensively modernised, with stations being renovated and the conventional ballast trackbed being replaced by a permanent concrete bed which enables quieter operations. The long-distance pair of tracks was electrified, enabling regional and intercity trains to pass unhindered through the center of Berlin for the first time since before the war.
With the opening of the Hauptbahnhof in 2006, some of the long-distance traffic was diverted to the new North-South tunnel, which helped relieved congestion on the Stadtbahn and provided an an alternative route through the centre of Berlin.